May 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
“We’re looking for a minister who can preach and teach. We’d like the successful candidate to be able to keep people from falling asleep during the sermon. We feel like we need good preaching because we want our people to grow; so, being able to challenge us intellectually and spiritually is a must.”.
“We’re looking for a pastor who will pay attention to us, who’ll spend time in the hospitals and nursing homes. The successful candidate will be a nurturing presence committed to loving all of our people during the difficult times, as well as the good times.”
“We’re looking for a someone who knows how to manage a large staff, who knows how to lead and offer vision. The successful candidate will be creative, but more importantly will know how to follow through, get things done.”
If you want to know what a congregation thought its previous minister lacked, sit in a pastoral search committee meeting. Like generals, churches always seem to be preparing to fight the last war.
Continue reading at [D]mergent
May 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I remember that point in my first ministry when I came to the office, sat down behind my desk prepared to write a sermon and realized I had already said everything I knew to say. I kept going over possible angles for the sermon, and kept running headlong into a brick wall: “Said it. Nope, said it. Said that. Said that too.”
I figured my career had reached its conclusion. I was sure that the next sermon would be my valedictory.
Where do ministers go after they’ve exhausted their knowledge, or perhaps better, when they’ve lost ways to communicate what they care about? After all, I hadn’t really said everything I knew. I just couldn’t see the bridges that would take me back to all the knowledge I had accumulated.
Sometimes I still feel that way when I preach or when I write—like whatever good I’ve had to say has already been said. Not much in front of me from here on out. I start feeling sorry for myself, wondering why inspiration isn’t a constant companion.
Some of it is boredom, some of it laziness. You do your thing for a while and you start thinking, “What’s next? Surely, there’s got to be something that will motivate me.”
And do you want to know what usually happens when these thoughts come flitting back through my mind? I eventually think: “I need to get busy doing something . . . something important.”
May 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Debbie, who comes into the church where I work at least three or four times a week, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Most of the time she’s as docile and kind as she can be. Sometimes, though she gets afraid. And when she experiences fear, she lashes out. (Who doesn’t, right?)
Debbie talks freely about her life–what kinds of things are happening at her apartment complex, who’s hassling her, what kind of health problems she has. From Debbie’s perspective, there seems to be a great deal wrong with the world … wrong in ways that threaten Debbie’s world. I’m not sure what her world looks like to her, but from my vantage point, the world Debbie inhabits looks pretty scary.
I understand Debbie’s fear, given the reality she inhabits. Because that fear seems so proximate and real, whenever she goes to leave, Debbie will come to me and ask: “Father Penwell [although I’m not a priest–at least of any recognized order, except, perhaps, the parental one]: Is everything all right? Does Debbie have anything to worry about? Everything’s ok, isn’t it?”
I call this the Reassurance Dance. The reassurance dance exists as a desperate need to have someone tell us everything’s going to be all right.
April 29, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I used to have a recurring nightmare about presenting a paper at a conference. In the dream I would conclude my presentation in front of my colleagues, and then I would do the requisite “Question and Answer.”
Invariably, a bespectacled man in a camel hair sport coat and blue jeans would stand up and ask, “So what?”
Panicked, I would stammer, “What do you mean, ‘So what?’”
“Well, I guess what you say is sort of interesting, but what turns on it? Why should I think your work is important? In other words, I hear what you’re saying, but the first thing I think is, ‘So what?’”
The fastest growing religious designation in America over the past five years, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, is “None.” While atheism and agnosticism have risen slightly over that time, the biggest increase is among those who, when asked about institutional religion, respond, “Meh.”
Parents Put 16 Year Old Daughter Up For Adoption After Learning She is Gay | Memoirs of Tyson Bowers III
April 7, 2013 § 1 Comment
Unfortunately, the reason this works as satire is because it’s so close to the experience of many LGBT youth.
April 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The GLAD Alliance has released a response to the recent hand wringing among those in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) over the prospect of a General Assembly resolution calling on the church to recognize itself as a place of welcome and grace for all—regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Here are some FAQs about why the resolution is necessary and what it is intended to do.
Appealing to the Provisional Design of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I’ve tried to offer an additional brief attempt to frame the need for a resolution:
As Disciples, we claim in the Design that “every person who is or shall become a member of a recognized congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) thereby holds membership” in the regional and general church. In other words, the Design asserts that one enters into a covenantal relationship with the CCDoC first at the congregational level. Notably lacking in this definition of membership is any qualifying or disqualifying characteristic. Consequently, if a local congregation receives a person into membership, that membership grants full access to fellowship and service within the whole church. Moreover, the Design provides for no mechanism whereby that membership can be qualified by regional or general expressions of the church.
Therefore, if membership in a local congregation extends unqualified membership to the regional or general church, we must make every effort to recognize and welcome all members. This resolution seeks to say a positive word of grace and welcome to those members who have, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, too often gone unrecognized and unwelcomed.
The world is changing rapidly, especially when it comes to our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender sisters and brothers. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) needs to speak with clarity about our understanding of justice in the new reign God is unleashing.